This is a beginner’s guide for getting snakes for anxiety. Our blog will first explain how having a pet snake can be therapeutic for anxiety. Then, we will discuss what are important things to keep in mind before deciding to do this. Finally, we will list the best breeds of snakes that make good pets.
Having a Pet Snake for Anxiety
Having a pet snake can be therapeutic for your anxiety but is a big responsibility to take. Here are some of the best snakes that you can get for this:
- Children’s Python
- Rainbow Boa
- Carpet Python
- Common Boa Constrictor
- Ringneck Snake
- Gopher Snake
- Kenyan Sand Boa
- Milk Snake
- Rosy Boa
- Cape House Snake
- Dekay’s Brown Snake
- African Egg-Eating Snake
- Rat Snake
- Rough Green Snake
- Western Hognose Snake
- Garter Snake
Can Exotic Pets Help People With Anxiety?
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets owned by individuals who rely on them to help control anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Reptiles are being increasingly adopted as ESAs. According to Dr Laurie Hess, exotic animals can be incredible companions as they are very non-judgmental.
A recent New York Post article wrote about giant snakes being used to help cure stress, migraines and anxiety. It is being seen as a bizarre new-age therapy trend. Participants let the reptiles slither across their bodies at the behest of a self-proclaimed “snake priestess” and “inter-species facilitator.”
The remedial treatment is meant to help soothe migraines, relieve stress and improve blood flow around the body. After being popular in Aian culture, it is now being accepted in the West as well!
Snakey Sue (aka Susan Coleman), a snake enthusiast based in the UK also believes that snake massage is an untapped therapy. She says that there is a vagus nerve in the back of the neck. When that gets manipulated with a snake lying on it, the pressure on the neck affects the whole body in a healing way.
Why Having a Pet Snake is a Huge Responsibility
Here are some things to consider before getting a snake for a pet:
- Snakes are complex animals who warm themselves in the sun, burrow underground, swim, climb trees, and travel long distances. However, none of these would be possible in its captive environment. Thus, an inability to practise their natural behaviours might cause health hazards.
- They are high-maintenance animals who deserve respect and compassion. Thus, if you are not willing to put in the time, they may not be a perfect pet for you.
- Snakes require spectrum lighting, specific temperatures and humidity levels, precise diets and feeding schedules, and lots of space. Taking adequate care of a snake is a nearly impossible and very expensive endeavour.
- They are wary animals who don’t like being held, touched, petted, or passed around. It’s stressful for them and puts them at risk of illness and injury. Because they don’t whine or yelp, you may not realize that they’re hurt. So if you are looking for an affectionate animal, please opt out of getting a snake.
- Getting small animals to feed your snake can be hard and cruel. Pet shops, which do keep such animals, treat them inhumanely.
- Salmonella, which can result in septicemia (blood poisoning). Additionally, other bacteria that can cause disease in humans are commonly found in snakes and other reptiles. Snakes can pass along botulism, which can lead to paralysis and death. Campylobacteriosis, trichinellosis which may cause nervous system, heart, and lungs disease, and leptospirosis may also be caused by keeping snakes.
- It’s not uncommon for “pet” snakes to suffer from infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), internal and external parasites. They may get skin infections, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, inclusion body disease, regurgitation, vomiting, organ swelling, anaemia or weight loss. You may not be well-equipped to notice symptoms and it is very expensive treating these.
- When snakes are kept in captivity- glass boxes, etc, it causes them anguish and trauma. Just like humans and other animals, they need to be able to stretch out to their full length—at the bare minimum—and they need exercise and room to move.
Thus, you must research all of the above, if you feel like you are equipped to handle them, you may go ahead with the idea of getting a snake. However, there are a lot of ethics that are related to having snakes as pets, because they are not domestic animals. Ponder a lot on it, consult a veterinarian and figure out what is best for you and the animals.
Which Snakes Make Good Pets?
Here are some friendly snakes that you can choose to keep as pets to help with anxiety:
Children’s python is often kept as a pet due to its good nature and less demanding requirements. The lifespan of captive specimens has been known to exceed 30 years. Juveniles are fed baby, hairless mice, while larger individuals can be fed on adult mice or small rats.
Feeding should occur roughly once a fortnight. Their placidity is one of their best features. Children’s Pythons are generally suitable for regular handling and will actively explore, which makes them a good starter pet.
Rainbow Boas are popular because of their small size and richly coloured markings which shimmer and create an iridescent effect. They are native to Brazil. Baby Brazilian Rainbow Boas can be nippy, but generally calm down with regular handling.
They thrive in captivity and make excellent pets as long as their requirements are met. The humidity requirements for the Brazilian rainbow boa are specific. Neonates and sub-adult boas require humidity of approximately 95%, while adults, being more tolerant, can be sustained at 75%.
Carpet Python snakes are one of the most popular pet python species. This is because of their attractive colours, calm adult temperament and manageable size. It is the single largest snake species encountered throughout the Brisbane and Ipswich regions.
It is non-venomous but a bite from this species can still cause considerable damage to humans. Carpet pythons are usually fed once every two weeks, which makes them low maintenance, and cheaper to care for.
Common Boa Constrictor
A boa constrictor can be an amazing pet for any reptile or snake enthusiast, but they do require proper care to live healthy, safe lives. These large, heavy snakes are native to South America and parts of the Caribbean.
Most boa constrictors are happiest in tropical conditions with adequate humidity. Boas do climb, especially when young, but mature snakes are more terrestrial and do not need extensive climbing options. These are nocturnal snakes and are more active at night, and rest and bask during the day.
Ringneck snakes have a distinctive yellow ring on their neck. They have stunning colours that are prized among snake owners. With their backs generally being black, brown or grey, their bright red, yellow or range stomachs look dazzling. Despite their secretiveness, ringnecks are social animals.
These snakes commonly eat earthworms but need more husbandry than most other snakes. Usually passive, they can tolerate handling for short periods of time. However, they might become irritated if they are handled for several minutes with no break.
Gopher snakes are extremely calm and docile, even in the wild. They are a pinwheel of colours, from cream, yellow, and tan, to green, grey, and red and are blotchy. Occasionally, you’ll find a striped gopher snake, but blotches are the most typical.
Gopher snakes can reach up to eight feet in length, though they are usually closer to three to five feet long. Gopher snakes are non-venomous, but they often look like their venomous counterparts, the rattle-snake. So be careful!
Kenyan Sand Boa
These snakes have developed a special niche in herpetoculture due to their interesting appearance. Having a relatively placid disposition, Kenyan sand boas have simple husbandry requirements. Even the largest individual is manageable for the keeper with limited space.
Their natural salmon with dark blotches colouration is unbeatable. A Kenyan sand boa is an excellent beginner snake. If you like the idea of frequently handling your pet, this might be the snake for you. They are quite accommodating and very well behaved!
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Milk Snakes make great pets because they are not too big in size, vibrant in colour, and are easy enough for beginners to handle. Milk snakes are relatively small, averaging between 21 and 28 inches (53 to 71 cm).
They also tend to be a little shyer when younger, but they grow up to be docile and friendly creatures. All types of milk snakes are non venomous and not dangerous to humans.
Rosy Boa’s generally docile temperament and small size make it an ideal choice for a pet snake. Especially, due to its easy care and small enclosure size. It readily feeds on commercially available mice. Many colour variations of this snake are available, including albino.
Adults are compliant and they tolerate handling well and rarely bite. Young ones should be given at least two weeks to adjust to their new enclosure before any handling takes place. You should work with your Boa to socialize them to enjoy handling.
Cape House Snake
Cape House snakes are medium to dark brown, with mother of pearl bellies, and two light stripes on either side of their heads. They are also very iridescent with their smooth scales giving off an oily sheen in certain light.
Non-venomous, this species is becoming increasingly more common in the exotic pet trade. Many hobbyists are beginning to keep and breed this species throughout the world. Nocturnal by nature, this species is ravenous and is known to eat entire nests of mice in one sitting.
Dekay’s Brown Snake
Dekay’s Brown Snake can make amazing display animals. They are especially fun to watch when they eat snails. This is because they pull the snail out of its shell with their teeth. These snakes are generally brown, ranging from rusty orange to a warm grey.
They are non venomous and completely harmless. They can seem shy. However, when they are in a sufficient terrarium you’ll see them out and about, exploring and maybe searching for food. They don’t climb but enjoy checking new things out.
African Egg-Eating Snake
If you dislike the idea of feeding your snake a diet of rodents, this could be the ideal pet snake. Egg-eating snakes are easy to care for and are manageable once they trust you. They’re non-venomous and toothless, so they can’t bite you.
However, sourcing eggs to feed your snake can be difficult because chicken eggs are too large. The egg-eating snake survives on a diet consisting of small bird eggs. It is the nearest that you’ll get to a vegetarian pet snake.
The rat snake is one of the most popular types of pet snake in America. They are great for beginners due to their docile personality and simple care needs. This, along with their hardiness makes them great beginner’s pets!
The colour of these snakes is fairly variable. With a greyish light brown to dark brown upper side and a bright yellow underside, they look attractive. They also tend to grow very long.
Rough Green Snake
The beautiful rough green snake is a gentle snake with a pleasant disposition. Called “rough” because their scales stand out at a slight angle, these snakes are agile and skilled climbers.
They make wonderful pets for someone who wants to sit back and enjoy watching this diurnal snake. They do not do too well with handling and prefer being left in their enclosure. However, they very rarely bite if at all!
Western Hognose Snake
Hognose snakes have unique snouts that act like little shovels. In the wild, they use their noses to burrow into the ground. In captivity, it is ideal to provide them with a few inches of sand mixed with reptile-safe soil.
You can also use another material that allows the snake to burrow and hide. They have adorable faces, and they can play dead! Thus, it is no surprise that Western hognose snakes are becoming more and more popular as pets.
Garter snakes are generally gentle and mild in nature. This makes them a good species of snake to keep as a pet. Most garter snakes won’t bite, instead, they might spray a musk to ward off danger.
They are also small, only growing between 23 to 30 inches long, though some have been known to grow larger than that. The common garter snake has a dark, distinguishable head and a long slithery body.
This was a beginner’s guide for getting snakes for anxiety. Our blog first explained how having a pet snake can be therapeutic for anxiety. Then, we discussed what are important things to keep in mind before deciding to do this. Finally, we listed the best breeds of snakes that make good pets.
The best snakes for anxiety are Children’s Python, Rainbow Boa, Carpet Python, Common Boa Constrictor, Ringneck Snake, Gopher Snake, Kenyan Sand Boa, Milk Snake, Rosy Boa, Cape House Snake, Dekay’s Brown Snake, African Egg-Eating Snake, Rat Snake, Rough Green Snake, Western Hognose Snake, and Garter Snake.
FAQs (Best Snake for Anxiety)
What is Ophidiophobia?
Ophidiophobia is a fear of snakes that can cause people to feel very uncomfortable around real or perceived snakes. It can get triggered even when looking at videos or images of snakes, and when imagining them.
What are snakes afraid of?
Common predators of snakes are foxes and raccoons so a snake would be afraid of them. Snakes also tend to avoid certain farm animals like turkeys, pigs, cats, and guinea hens. Even some plants like lemongrass, marigolds, and wormwood.
Are snakes afraid of humans?
Yes, most snakes are generally quite wary of humans and are unlikely to attack. If they do bite, it’s the last resort and for protection.